Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place.

ERNESTINE'S MILKY WAY

Ernestine lives on a farm in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Her father is away in “the war” (identified in an author’s note as World War II), and her mother is expecting twins very soon. Ernestine’s days are filled with chores, and at night there is warm milk and comfort in Mama’s assurance that Daddy is looking up and seeing the same stars they are viewing. When Mama assigns her the task of bringing two large mason jars of milk to a neighbor family, she is ready for the task. As she makes the trek she hears scary sounds and imagines dangerous animals lying in wait. She reassures herself by shouting her mantra, “I’m five years old and a big girl,” and each time discovers only small, benign creatures instead of fierce beasts. She drops one milk jar, which rolls away, but arrives safely at the neighbor’s home with the remaining one. The lost milk jar is found, containing a delightful surprise, and a joyous breakfast ensues. The author employs lovely lilting language to describe the rural setting. Descriptors of the path’s vagaries are repeated as Ernestine makes her way, taking readers along with her through the “valley of doghobble and devil’s walking stick.” Sutton’s brightly hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations effortlessly convey the time period, setting, and events, and they express Ernestine’s every emotion.

Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1484-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An action-packed romp.

EVEN SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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